ITALY - The results of one of the largest manager searches among Italy’s second pillar pension schemes is expected soon.

Fonchim, Italy’s industrywide pension scheme for chemical workers, is looking for up to nine managers to manage its 800 million-euro fund.

The deadline for the request for proposal is December 31 for Italian applications and January 14 for English ones. The RFP was originally published in November. The selection will be made in the New Year.

The scheme, with 114,000 members, has issued a request for proposal to manage mandates made up of seven combinations of asset classes, including global bonds. The administrative board says it will judge managers on their track record over the three years to the third quarter of 2003.

Fonchim currently uses six fund managers: Generali, Ras, Unipol, Pioneer, San Paoli-Imi and Duemme, part of the Esperia Group, a joint venture between Mediolanum and Mediobanca.

State Street Global Advisors also manages part of Fonchim’s fixed income assets under a sub-advisory agreement to Banca Esperia. This arrangement followed the decision by Mediolanum and State Street to discontinue the management of second pillar pension scheme assets through the Mediolanum State Street joint venture.

Fonchim’s assets are currently split into three lines of investment – a cautious fund with 100% allocation to bonds, a balanced fund with 70% bonds and 30% equities and a growth fund with 60% equities and 40% bonds.

The bulk of the assets – 640 million euros - is invested in the balanced fund, with only 40 million euros in the cautious fund, and 20 million euros in the growth fund.